13 November 2019

The Royal Australian Navy’s (RAN) Canberra class Landing Helicopter Docks (LHD), have achieved final operational capability.

This is a major milestone achievement for both Navy and its Plan Pelorus for 2022. Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said HMA Ships Adelaide and Canberra are ready to be deployed on amphibious operations such as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and amphibious warfare.

“The Australian Defence Force’s amphibious capability is an integral part of Australia’s strategic posture and this milestone is another step in Navy’s roadmap to delivering amphibious excellence,” Minister Reynolds said.

These 27,000-tonne ships are able to land a force of over 1,000 personnel by helicopter and water craft, along with all their weapons, ammunition, vehicles and stores.

HMA Ships Adelaide and Canberra are the largest ships ever built for the Royal Australian Navy, the LHDs were built as a collaboration between Navantia and BAE Systems – Maritime. The LHDs are based on the reference ship the Juan Carlos I and signify the second contract Navantia signed with Australia.

The ships were constructed using the modular approach whereby the ship is divided into modules, which were built and fitted out as discrete units, before being welded together to form the completed ship. This allowed the ship to be built at a number of different sites across the shipyard before being brought together for final joining.

Construction of the hull to the level of the flight deck, including the majority of fitting out was undertaken at Navantia’s Ferrol-Fene shipyard in north-west Spain. The hull was then shipped to BAES’ Williamstown shipyard in Victoria for the installation of the island structure. The island modules were constructed at a number of sites around Australian before they were moved to Williamstown for final installation on the flight deck.

The ship’s roles are to:

  • Embark, transport and deploy an embarked force (Army in the case of the ADF but could equally be an allied Army or Marines), along with their equipment and aviation units; and
  • Carry out/support humanitarian missions.

HMA Ships Adelaide and Canberra are jointly crewed, with personnel from Navy, Army and the Air Force forming the ship’s company.

Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Michael Noonan, AO, said Navy is closer to achieving a resilient, sustained and integrated Navy, as outlined in the Plan Pelorus strategy for 2022.

“As we transition to a more technologically advanced Navy, our goal is to be capable of conducting sustained combat operations as part of a joint force,” VADM Noonan said.

Navantia Australia is providing engineering services – including design, technical support, configuration management, supply support and smart maintenance for the RAN’s Canberra class Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) under Asset Class Prime Contractor (ACPC) program with Naval Ship Management (NSM) Australia.

In addition to being the ship designer, integrator and builder, Navantia is also the OEM for a number of platform systems. Navantia is also the designer and OEM for the 12 LLC landing craft embarked upon the LHDs, the sustainment for which is also included under the ACPC. We are working closely with Australian Defence Industry suppliers to build a strong global supply chain in place to support their sustainment.